Wildlife trafficking is a major global challenge, where it also includes poaching and other taking of protected or managed species. Illegal trafficking has escalated to an international crisis. This challenge is a critical conservation concern and a major threat to global security, with significant national interests. As much as there are other threats to wildlife and plant species, such as climate change, pollution, and destruction of natural habits, wildlife trafficking is still one of the critical problems and threats facing wildlife. It includes poaching, harvesting, and depleting significant quantities of already endangered or at-risk species.
Wildlife trafficking has far-reaching implications, which are not only to the involved species but also to the lives of humans, biodiversity, and governance. The consequences that wildlife trafficking has meant a need to have a comprehensive approach, including poverty eradication, food security, sustainable development, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, economic growth, social wellbeing, and sustainable development livelihoods(Haenlein, Maguire, & Somerville, 2017). There have been multiple incidences in which involve wildlife trafficking across the globe. An example of a most recent case is August 2020, where federal authorities charged a dozen individuals who were found illegal trafficking shark fins worth millions of dollars in Florida. It was also established that they did not want just traffic wild life but were also involved in the trafficking of marijuana and laundered their ill-gotten gains into jewels, gold, and other commodities. This proves that the wildlife trafficking business is integrated into many others, where criminals are involved in multiple types of illegal companies that are all interrelated(Heinrich, et al., 2020). As a result, of poaching band wildlife trafficking, thousands of animal species have become extinct globally. Some many issues and factors are associated with wildlife trafficking. First, it manifests that this is a big business, which rakes in close to $23 billion annually, and the value can even be more extensive in the current years(Agu & Gore, 2020). Wildlife trafficking is a significant threat to the tens of thousands of species globally, which has resulted in the extinction of animals such as the Western Black Rhino, numerous types of birds, lions and tigers, and even orchids. Wildlife trafficking is harmful to animals and humans, where the persons involved in the trade have also been involved in murder, intimidation, bribery, terrorism, and organized crimes. All these crimes are interrelated and lead to destabilizing families, communities, and a country’s national security.
Wildlife trafficking also happens in many forms, where the traffickers require parts such as meat, scales, horns, and many other features. Others are sold for the pet trade and alter consumption. In the process of transporting animals from one area to another, very few survive the process(Miller, et al., 2019). In many cases, wildlife trading involves collateral damage, where for example, poachers of elephants may use poison to eliminate the nearby vultures. The latter would otherwise circle the dead pachyderms and alert the authorities to the kill sites(Haenlein & Smith, 2017). Therefore, it is apparent that this is a major global challenge that ought to be comprehensively addressed since it will help protect the animals and help prevent other related crimes such as illegal drugs and firearms trades, among other crimes.
Many scholarly articles and publications have been in place to elucidate the topic of wildlife trafficking, one of the major global problems. According to many of the articles, if nothing is dozen to deal with wildlife trafficking, then it is likely that many wild animals will get extinct in the coming years. According to (Viollaz, Graham, & Lantsman, 2018), the international community dramatically recognizes poaching and the destructive impacts of wildlife trafficking and other associated crimes(Heinrich, et al., 2020).This is since it has established that in most cases, corruption in many cases is to be blamed for the soaring cases of illegal trafficking of wildlife. The trade is a clear violation of laws in place, erodes the quality of life, distorts markets, and enables threats to human security. Nevertheless, according to (Arroyo-Quiroz & Wyatt, 2019)wildlife trafficking remains to be one of the least discussed dimensions of corruption and particularly the illegal wildlife trade, which has become rampant in many nations across the globe. As a result of corruption, Criminal activities such as wildlife trafficking have continued to be more successful and raise a considerable amount of illegal money that the cartels and some members of the government gain. Worldwide Illegal Wildlife trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of illicit trade, where it has managed to form a multi-billion-dollar industry that transcends national borders. The IWT has been estimated to be valued at $7–23 billion annually – part of a more comprehensive environmental crime industry valued at $91–258 billion(Wyatt, Johnson, Hunter, George, & Gunter, 2018). With the trade expanding by the day, it has become more sophisticated, where it involves regular, transcontinental transfers of multi-ton consignments. It is currently referred to as transnational organized crime since it involves extensive, strategic facilitation by corrupt entities within the chain(Arroyo-Quiroz & Wyatt, 2019). Given the scope of this criminality, the failure of the government to act against corruption has continued to enable wildlife trafficking, which ultimately will lead to the extinction of species that are greatly endangered by the trade.
According to (Crayne & Haenlein, 2017) as a result of the wildlife trafficking, many developing countries are harmed and cannot achieve nations’ poverty and development outcomes. Hence, this undermines the ability to engage in the nation’s agendas on sustainable development and deprives countries of valuable touristic resources. This is a result of the deployed natural species, which are a representation of the global public good. (Brown, 2017)States that result from wildlife trafficking and othercorruption deals by nations, the affected countries cannot attain their set sustainable development goals on combatting poaching and the trafficking of protected species. Illegal trade also inhibits the sustainable development goals of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.
According to (Miller, et al., 2019), illegal wildlife trafficking is the single hugest threat to the endangered species. This is since any form of poaching or harvesting parts of an animal risks the species becoming extinct. To worsen the problem, when there is a higher demand for the larger and more attractive species, then the hunters tend to aim at the fittest individuals from the breeding population(Arroyo-Quiroz & Wyatt, 2019). This, as a result, has severe implications for subsequent generations. It is also manifest that more endangered species are fragile, where they require expert and delicate handling. How the animals are caught, transported, and kept by the poachers in many cases tends to lead to injury, death, and attrition, which ultimately leads to further losses when the living animals are trafficked.
(Brown, 2017)also supports the many negative impacts of wildlife trafficking. He states that as a result of illegal trade, there have been numerous harm caused to the innocent animals by the illegal traders. According to the author, the unlawful transactions can lead to long-term ecological problems beyond endangering species, including sex ratio imbalances and the slowing down of the reproduction rates of the vulnerable species(Haenlein, Maguire, & Somerville, 2017). An example is the gender imbalance of African elephants, where many males have been killed for their tusks. As a result,population recovery among the elephants has been slowed down due to the affected reproduction rates(Wittig, 2017). Other animals, such as the Macaws, have very slow reproduction rates;hence targeting them has reduced their population since there are very few macaws left to reproduce with. This depicts the impacts that the illicit trade has had on the wildlife and could further in the future have more burdensome consequences on the population of these species.
Illegal Wildlife Trafficking has also increased animal cruelty, where the methods used to kill or capture animals are extremely cruel and fail to comply with the set animal welfare standards(Heinrich, et al., 2020). The transportation and concealment methods are also against the measures leading to illness, injuries, starvation, or tense animals’ detachments when in transit. Trafficking live animals can result in high fatality rates, more so when they are not stored or fed accordingly(Sollund R. , 2017). The traffickers do not observe the animal rights and ethical processes required of them , where the rights advocate against killing, using, or consuming wild animals(Sollund, 2019). From the studies, it is manifest that there is a need for a more in-depth study on the subject matter where there is a need for establishing recommendations that can lead to a sustainable solution that will help deal with the increasing cases of illegal wildlife trafficking.
A review of major national and international laws/regulations designed to address the problem
Presently, preventing and suppressing illegal wildlife trafficking is not a priority in most countries across the globe. Despite the major negative impact and potential scale of consequences, wildlife trafficking is often overlooked or even misunderstood by many. As much as there are multiple policies and laws, their enforcement has not been very effective, primarily due to the changing levels and patterns of trafficking. There are also poorly developed legal frameworks, weak law enforcement, and untrusted judicial practices. This has a result led to more danger and threat to the valuable wildlife and plant resources. There are also multiple gaps in domestic and international control regimes , where it is difficult to identify illegal commodities and secondary products(Sollund, 2019). There are also intricate trafficking routes that make it difficult to curtail the trade effectively. As much as many organizations, both international and non-governmental, have launched initiatives that aim to bring global attention to wildlife trafficking, political commitment,and operational activity to tackle this challenge. However, to date, there is no single universal framework that is in place to prevent and control wildlife trafficking crime.
There have been many international treaties and conventions that were in place to help deal with the threat of wildlife trafficking. In 2018, for example, the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network undertook a legal review of ASEAN countries’ respective legislation on wildlife crime(OECD, 2021). The review provides a comparatives framework of the analysis of relevant laws and their applications towards dealing with the illegal wildlife trade. There is also the convention on transnational crime, the principle international framework that deals with organized crimes across the borders. This legally binding document has various provisions that require the parties to integrate domestic criminal offenses with international crimes. There are also multiple protocols of the UNCTO, which focus on particular transnational crimes that include human trafficking, migrant smuggling,and illicit arms trafficking. However, there are no specific protocols that specifically deal with wildlife crime by the UN(OECD, 2021). Another act in place to deal with international wildlife trafficking is the UNCAC, which covers five key areas: preventative measures, criminalization and law enforcement, global cooperation, asset recovery, technical assistance, and information exchange.
A review of notable conservation measures implemented to address the problem and the outcome of these measures
Nations have undertaken multiple conservation measures intended to prevent the causes of wildlife trafficking. The United States, for example,addresses the threat by enacting act such as the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016 and the executive order of 2017 by the president, which enforces federal laws concerning the U.S. Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Laws concerning Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking(OECD, 2021). The END act was essential for the country in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. It aimed to strengthen law enforcement, reduce the demand for animals and their parts, andbuild international cooperation and commitment. There has also been more collaboration between the USAID and other government agencies such as the justice and commerce departments. The bodies aim trio reduce opportunities and incentives for wildlife poachers, traffickers, and sellers through working together. In the financial year 2018, the USAID inversed more than $65 million, intending to address wildlife trafficking through activities in more than 35 nations across the globe(OECD, 2021). This was with collaboration with some of the most affected countries regarding trafficking, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Vietnam.
There have also been numerous campaigns and activities aimed at reducing consumer demand for animals and their parts. USAID has been in the spotlight leading in such activities. It aims to reduce the demand for wildlife and wildlife products, including focusing on consumers mainly in Southeast Asia and China, known to have the highest orders for such products. For example, in the Financial year 2018, the USAID leveraged around $4.3 million from private-sector partnerships. It also screened videos on 60,00 public screens, more than 1500 flights, and more than 500 buses(OECD, 2021). The online videos about the campaigns attracted more than 12 million views, which indicates the efforts made to raise awareness on the matter.
USAID has also been at the forefront of fighting for an effective criminal justice system in nations to investigate and prosecute wild; life crime. The body has supported inter-agency collaboration, transboundary cooperation, and reforms to policies and practices to ensure that criminals are appropriately punished. The body has partnered with countries and trained several law enforcers, prosecutors, and judges to approach the matter. As a result of the efforts, countries such as Malawi and Zambia in the financial year 2018 could seize more than 3.65 tons of ivory and made 148 arrests. Efforts by the USAID to offer workshops for 89 prosecutors and magistrates on the new wildlife act saw an increase of the population of elephants by 50% since 2016 in the Malawi-Zambia Transboundary Landscape. However, despite the measures undertaken byboth the state and non-state agencies, the number of illegal wildlife trafficking has still been on the rise in this century(Haenlein, Maguire, & Somerville, 2017). This is a clear manifestation that more ought to be done to ensure that sustainable solutions to the problem are identified and that the cases of trafficking are minimized. There is a need for more government commitment, more enactment and implementation of laws, and more goodwill from the citizens to ensure that illegal wildlife trafficking is dealt with accordingly.
There is a need to develop effective policies that will ensure that wildlife trafficking’s completely eradicated globally.This is to ensure that the future of wildlife is made atop priority. As apart of the policy recommendation, the practitioners will need to develop sustainable approaches that fight trafficking and corruption, which are remarkably interrelated. The policy first needs to implement reforms and mechanisms that allow for meaningful improvements of institutional performance and control of corruption outcome. This is since, with a vital institution, thensome better practices and strategies can help in combating the crimes. From this perspective, there will be the promotion of stronger performances in preventing the crimes since it will require the attention of working with and incentivizing anti-corruption. The approach also closely aligns with national priorities such as social welfare,economy , natural resource management , environment, space, and security(Viollaz, Graham, & Lantsman, 2018). All these factors are vital in ensuring that a country’s wildlife is protected and safe from the hands of poachers and traffickers.
As a part of the policy, there will be a need for encouraging alternative economic opportunities to the citizens. This will primarily target vulnerable groups who will have other jobs to undertake. Hence, they will not be an easy target by syndicates and cartels who use them as poachers and traffickers. From experiences provided by reformed poachers, it is manifest that if they are provided with alternative sources of income, they would be able to use the income-generating activities to keep them busy. This will deter them from becoming involved in any activity that deals with wildlife trafficking.
As a part of the policy that will help combat wildlife trafficking, there will be a need to address stereotypes. This mainly involves encouraging people on why it is essential to be the forefront runners in protecting the wildlife, where they will be shown the importance of wildlife to the society and the ecosystem at large. Making people understand will help them understand why they should be involved more in conservation efforts rather than getting involved in the poaching and trafficking of wildlife(Haenlein, Maguire, & Somerville, 2017). Such messages could be potentially be reinforced through positive role models. They can be tailored to expose the ideal costs of wildlife trafficking and corruption, which hurts individuals and communities.
Such holistic approaches to the conservation of wildlife are vital in that they help in tackling both supply and demand of wildlife products. Equally, in policy implementation, it is crucial to spotlight the poachers. Equally, the consumers of the wildlife products need to be warned against participating in such forms of trade where stringent punishment measures would be in place to ensure that they do not walk scot-free.
As apart of the approach, it inessential to focus on the punishment of the wrongdoers and focus on preventing the crimes. There is a need for programs that consider the drivers, facilitators,and functionality of participating in the acts of trafficking. As apart of the prevention program, there is a need to allocate much more funds, which will help ensure personnel at the game parks and conservation centers protect the wildlife against poachers. There is also a need to have excellent security systems, such as electric fences, CCTV cameras,and other quality equipment that will spot poachers before getting involved in any crime-related act.
However, these policies can not get implemented if there is a lack of high levels of political support. This is since only through the legislature can an act be enacted, which can then be used for enforcement. Failure by the policymakers to collaborate in combating wildlife trafficking could mean that it will be impossible for nations to make steps forward given their crucial role of enactment and legislation of the policies(Arroyo-Quiroz & Wyatt, 2019). There is also a need for regional and international cooperation,which can play a vital role in ensuring that international illegal trafficking is stopped. Notably, almost all wildlife trafficking cases are between nations and continents, where some countries are the sources of the products whereas others are the market. Therefore through international collaborations, the syndicates can be stopped. However, this is only possible if there is a robust multiagency collaboration between nations and law enforcement agencies.
The barriers to its implementation
There are multiple barriers to the implementation of the recommended policies. The first significant barrier likely to derail the implementation is the lack of funding. Funding is vital in that it aids in establishing the right structures and ensures that the mandated personnel are reimbursed accordingly. It is the role of t government to provide funding since it plays a crucial role in ensuring that conservation efforts are successful. Other non-state bodies could also play a huge role in funding the campaigns and helping combat these crimes,which are likely to destroy the global ecology system. Lack of funding would negatively affect the efforts of ensuring that all the required measures are effectively implemented.
Lack of political goodwill is another significant barrier limiting the efforts of conservation and prevention of wildlife trafficking. Governments may fail to collaborate in the actions of dealing with trafficking. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that many senior government officials are a part of the cartels that deal with trafficking, hence showing minimal effort in the fight against traffickers(Wyatt, Johnson, Hunter, George, & Gunter, 2018). Governments are also expected to deal with social issues facing individuals, such as poverty. Failure to eradicate the problem leaves citizens with no option but to engage in illegal activities as the only means of surviving.
The expected outcomes of the proposed policy
If well implemented, the proposed policies are likely to benefit multiple nations. This is since, first,they will ensure that residents get involved in other economic activities and are not interested in poaching activities. Hence, this will ensure that there is no supply of wildlife products and ensure that markets do not sell to the consumers. The policy also suggests that wildlife risk be more protected, which will means that the poachers will have a hard time accessing any wildlife animals. This will eventually helpfully minimize the cases of poaching and provide a sustainable solution to the significant challenge. If well implemented, the policy is also likely to help in more future collaboration between governments across the globe. Such partnerships will ensure that countries work together to fight against illegal wildlife trafficking and hence make a huge step in ensuring that all animals are safe nan are always protected from extinction. The polices will also ensure that there is more collaboration between the government agencies and its citizens. This is since the government will try to reduce the poverty levels and inequality among its citizens and also ensure that they have better economic capabilities and financial freedom . This collaboration will create a great relationship between the two entities. Consequently, they will work together to eradicate the increasing cases of poaching and wildlife trafficking in the country. Citizens will be ready to avail necessary information to the law enforcement on the issue of poachers or wildlife traffickers, hence making the process of arresting and prosecuting them easily. This will ultimately provide a sustainable solution to the challenge. Consequently, this will help with international collaborations with other nations, where the syndicates and caters running the illegal wildlife trade will be stopped since there will be no more wildlife products to offer to the illicit markets.
The mechanisms of evaluating the effectiveness of the proposed policy
To evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed policy, there will be a need to have the necessary tools and strategies that can help analyze where the policy was a success. The most suitable method of understanding the progress of the policy is undertaking constant review of the number of wildlife, where an increase in the number of wild animals in the parks will be an indication of the policy’s success. This is since it will signify that the number of poaching has been on a decline. On the other hand, a decrease in the number of animals will depict slow or no progress due to the policy.
Another determinant of the efficiency of the proposed policy will be the number of poachers and traffickers arrested and prosecuted. The higher the number of offenders will mean that the policy has been effective in that it helped in ensuring more arrests and prosecutions of the traffickers. Another way of evaluating the effectiveness of the policy is by analyzing the market trends of illegal wildlife products. The case that the trade gets lesser and that there are lesser products in the illicit markets will be a clear indication of the successful implementation of the policy.
Research and Data Needs
To better understand wildlife trafficking, there is a clear need for more information from relevant bodies and agencies that deal with poaching and wildlife trafficking issues. There is also a need for information and statistics from the tourism departments in the country, which have sufficient information regarding the amount of wildlife in the country and the prevalence of poaching. The wildlife and tourism department has figures and statistics for over the past years, giving a clear pattern of trade and help identify sustainable solutions. The following research questions will momentously help in identifying sustainable solutions to the challenge:
iii. Wat is the role of the government in combating the cases of illegal wildlife trafficking?
There will then be a need for in-depth research on the subject matter. This will involve a qualitative study that will comprehensively analyze the subject matter and ensure that sustainable recommendations are in place. The best methods to collect information by the use of both primary and secondary methods. The primary techniques will involve using online surveys to respondents who are conversing with matters of conversation. On the other hand, secondary data will include past publications, journals, and articles with relevant information regarding illegal wildlife trafficking.